Page 1

designing conversations frameworks for collaboration & empowerment

Matthew Van Der Tuyn

Designing Conversations Frameworks for Collaboration & Empowerment

211 South Broad Street, 5th Floor Philadelphia, PA 19102 Copyright Š 2012

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit

Submitted in partial fulfillment of requirements for degree of Master of Industrial Design at The University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA by Matthew Van Der Tuyn

Copyright © 2012 by Uarts MID Illustrations copyright © 2012 by Matthew Van Der Tuyn Photography credits: Pages 51, © 2010 RED Design Council

committee chair pamela tudor

All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced–mechanically, electronically, or by any other means, including photocopying–without written permission of the publisher. Cover design by Matthew Van Der Tuyn Book design by Matthew Van Der Tuyn Masters of Industrial Design at The University of the Arts 212 South Broad Street, 5th Floor Philadelphia, PA 19102 First printing August 2012

advisor jeremy beaudry

director jonas milder

designing conversations abstract Designing Conversations is an action research based project exploring how Design frameworks can lay the foundation for collaboration and empowerment within organizations and communities. We will demonstrate both how Design can be used as a tool to address ever-evolving problems and how Designers can transfer these tools to the organizations that will continuously benefit from their use. Two very different types of organization served as pilots for the development of the kinds of Design frameworks and tools that will serve their ever-changing needs. One of these groups is the University of Pennsylvania Health System (UPHS), and the other the New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC). The first is an example of a large hierarchical organization; the second is an a non-profit serving grassroots community organizations. What I have tested in this work is how design can enhance and leverage the empowerment and collaboration of individuals and groups within both structures to produce lasting

transformational change. In this thesis I have prototyped several frameworks and supporting materials to help guide the work being done in both of these environments toward a more collaborative and empowering approach. This has led to an understanding of strategies and guiding principles in working within these two contexts to build a capacity for more meaningful ways of working and learning. While immersing my self in both contexts, design opportunities emerged through direct observation, interviews, and working with those living in both contexts. It was through this process that opportunities for enhancing collaboration and empowerment were realized. I have found that these two components are necessary for the growth of both groups as they work toward a more unified culture that can foster the change they seek. In hierarchical structures, like in UPHS, the chain-of-command communication can create barriers between those who make decisions and those who feel the impact of those decisions. Such a disconnect creates an overall sense of dis-empowerment among many, as

well as anxiety and fear around communication that results in an avoidance of risk, and dis-satisfaction with group decision making methods and processes. The frameworks and tools that I have introduced and tested in this environment supported the collaborative work of a range of individuals across the vertical and horizontal silos that exist in a hierarchical organization. The empowering and collaborative experience of these design frameworks led to the adoption of new ways of learning, working and making decisions within the organization. The overall approach and the tools that helped to guide such work allowed for a high level of transparency, as multiple perspectives were made tangible and visible throughout the process. This transparency made possible a collective understanding of problems and opportunities. Multiple stakeholders were able to leverage that understanding to develop collaborative scenarios for the future. Within the more grassroots community organization, a lack of structure and the existence of sub-groups based around social and cultural ties can create confusion around collective goals and actions. There is an absence of guidance for the work the group wants to do, Free-for-all discussions, a lack of clear leadership, little or no decision making, can leave the group with no sense of accomplishment or progress. A major aspect of the work done by the NKCDC is to begin to build more organization for the community members at large as well as strong leadership roles among community champions.

This is typically done through facilitation, however this only goes so far as no tangible results can emerge at the pace the community desires. As this building of capacity is often a process that takes years, involving a high degree of dedication on the part of the CDC and the community. However, such a lengthy and laborious process can become a problem when communities are faced with an increasingly difficult environments that poses safety and quality of life issues. The community that I have collaborated with in partnership with NKCDC in the Lehigh-Somerset area is such a community. Located in Kensington Philadelphia, this diverse community lives with one of the city’s busiest drug corners and the remains of industries that once promised income for many of the families in the area. Neighbors in this community were beginning to form a new civic association, Somerset Neighbors for Better Living. This group was ready to stand up and fight for change to transform their neighborhood into safe and valuable place to live and grow. Within this context designs were introduced that provided the scaffolding for a more structured way of working that produced tangible results. Such work allowed for a sense of progress for those involved in this newly formed movement. The frameworks and tools that helped to guide such work were designed to consider the larger voice of the community, in a unified and guided manner. For the NKCDC this approach has offered new ways for engaging communities, building a capacity for leadership and collaboration, with an emphasis on community decision-making. What has resulted is the beginnings of visible change for the community by the community.

Designing Conversations

frameworks for

collaboration &


For my family and friends. You have been my mentors, my support, and my inspiration...

table of contents 12

Case Studies

/ University of Pennsylvania Health System


An introduction to a large organization


Acknowledgements Many thanks to my committee members: Pamela, Jeremy, Jonas, Sherry, and Neil.

With out all of you none of this would have been possible!


An introduction to a grassroots, community building organization


Thanks to Meghan and Ben, my collaborators with UPHS... And thank you to the many people from UPHS, NKCDC. and Somerset Neighbors for Better Living...

/ New Kensington Community Development Corporation

/ Planting the seeds of transformation The role of design in enhancing the way people work with one another


/ Design Direction


/ C  ollaboration and Empowerment with the University of Pennsylvania Health System /C  ollaboration and Empowerment with New Kensington Community Development Corporation

/ Comparative Analysis Designing within these two environments


/ Final Thoughts

Moving forward with this work

Theories and Approach


/ Appendix

Glossary Bibliography

designing conversations


university of pennsylvania health system

designing conversations |

| UPHS, Intro

university of pennsylvania health system An introduction to a large organization

Overview UPHS is regarded as one of the leading health systems in the nation. Often referred to as Penn Medicine, the system includes 3 major hospitals in Philadelphia as well as an array of clinical practices. In the entire system there are over 20,000 employees working in over 60 interconnected and dispersed buildings in and around the region. While UPHS is certainly a unique organization they face many of the same issues that exist in any large complex corporation. They are constantly working to improve their services, employee satisfaction, and deal with external pressures and competition. For UPHS, as well as in most large organizations, There are multiple divisions that exist to manage various aspects of the company. The corporate division of the organization is responsible for sustaining the internal workings of the organization. This includes several functions such as organizational development, human resources, and operations management. All of these functions work to sustain and improve upon the organization from an internal approach.

Background In the fall of 2011 I began working with UPHS in a collaboration with several other design students and the Human Resources department. Our primary focus was on understanding the employee experience to inform opportunities for two online platforms. One, a new social media based platform that was being piloted to allow


Lauren has been the main contact, collaborator, and advocate through out the course of work that has been done with UPHS and the UArts MiD Program.

At the new Center for Learning and Innovation, there are large spaces that are used for training, new employee orientations, and presentations.

employees to share their ideas and build networks. The other, an existing platform for required employee education that was in the process of being rebuilt to allow for more professional development opportunities. Our goal was to understand how employees learn and share ideas within the organization to discover potential opportunities for the future of these two systems.

The most important collaborator that I have had throughout my time with UPHS is Lauren. Lauren is a talent acquisition specialist who had been advocating for a more innovative and collaborative culture. From her perspective there is a need for change in the organization toward a more collaborative and creative approach to problem solving.

Throughout this project however there was an underlying factor that went beyond the project brief. Having recently opened a new Center for Learning and Innovation, there were questions around what “learning” and “innovation” meant for UPHS. Of course, the organization is known for leading the way in ground breaking medical research but how do they learn and innovate themselves?

Throughout this initial collaboration an understanding of the organizational culture and how employees were working, learning, and making decisions influenced the direction of my work. Leveraging the knowledge that had been gained we would pilot Design frameworks that could be incorporated into the organization. These frameworks would compliment and enhance how the organization currently worked to understand and address problems and opportunities. 15/

designing conversations |

How is UPHS working, learning, and making decisions?

Chain of Command

| UPHS, Intro

Downward Communication

Upward Communication

Structure and Culture Throughout the initial work had done with UPHS a great deal was learned about how UPHS employees work internally with one another to solve problems and the various methods in which they do so. Much of this has to do with the organizational structure and culture. The organizational structure of UPHS is hierarchical. Within a hierarchical organization there is a strong emphasis on vertical communication lines. In this vertical structure, known as the chain of command, there are clear roles between leadership, management, and frontline staff. Governance trickles down the chain of command while reporting flows up. This line of communication insures accountability through clear levels of authority and oversight.





While downward communication throughout the chain of command is well structured with systems in place to ensure clarity around goals and tasks, upward communication is much more difficult. Because of the perception of authority roles within this vertical structure there are roadblocks and filtering of information as frontline staff try to communicate issues. This causes a disconnect between those who make decisions and set organizational goals, leadership, and those who very well know the flaws of systems and procedures, the frontline staff. In a large organization, like UPHS, there are multiple levels even within these three distinct facets of the chain of command. This means that communication becomes even more complicated and disconnected where even at the managerial level it is hard to influence change or have your voice heard.



designing conversations |

As with vertical communication, horizontal communication within UPHS is fragmented and difficult to navigate. There are many specialized departments who are delegated tasks that contribute to the potential success of a given goal. Tasks are further delegated within these silos and given to smaller departments or individuals. As Interactions between individuals and specialized groups are often limited to coordination and simple communication true collaboration is not supported. As a result the sharing of knowledge and collective work is constrained to these two forms of interaction, if at all. This lack of communication can produce several undesired results such as redundancies in work or ill-informed decisions due to a lack of transparency in cross-organizational efforts. However, what is most relevant to large organizations like UPHS is the ineffectiveness of this way of working in addressing whole system problems. As noted by the RED Design Council, this structure works well for breaking apart and distributing work loads but not so well for developing holistic approaches to complexity. Large whole system problems require multiple perspectives and specialties to work collaboratively and transparently with one another. So what does this mean for the culture at UPHS? While the challenges surrounding the hierarchical structure do pose some obvious issues, this is the norm. When we spoke with over 30 employees across the system there were feelings of being under utilized, unengaged and dis-empowered. At the same time however a common response was “that’s just how it is here”. There is also an


| UPHS, Intro

overwhelming sense of pride amongst employees of being the “best of the best”. In such an elite culture individuals are rewarded for perfection and judged for mistakes. This creates much anxiety around communication and risk taking. For an organization to become more collaborative and innovative individuals and teams must be rewarded for just the opposite. Employees should be encouraged to ask questions, take risks, and fail fast to succeed sooner.

Delegation & Silos, Roadblocks in Horizontal Communication

Learning and Decision Making With all of these constraints around communication, shared learning, and collective work in this UPHS, decision making plays a major role in what and how work gets done. It also directly affects how the organization learns. Unfortunately, as described earlier, the disconnect between those who make decisions and those who are directly involved in the work increases the likely hood for less than optimal decisions. By the same logic, the tools and methods being used to understand and learn are limited when facing whole system problems and opportunities.

One of the best examples of such an approach to organizational learning is Six Sigma. Six Sigma is a business management strategy that is being utilized by UPHS. First developed by Motorola, this strategy has been used mostly in manufacturing and business. The focus is on process outputs and work is done to identify “defects” and standardize processes. The research, development, and success of this method is driven by quantitative and mostly financial values. 19/

designing conversations |

Organizational Processes SUBJECTS OF STUDY

Six Sigma Methods & Tools DECISION MAKING




Project Team Process

| UPHS, Intro

This stage is about documenting the baseline or as-is circumstances. Processes are outlined and areas around performance and quality are measured based on pre-determined metrics. Common tools that are used at this stage are Process Flow Charts, documenting the step by step processes, and Parto Charts, which capture quantitative information around a given process.

At this stage the focus for the project is determined. A “team charter” will be drawn up to define the project work. This will usually consist of Project Scope, Opportunity, and Actions.


Scope A clear definition of the problem

New Process

Data Outcomes

New Policy

New Roles


Actions Team responsibilities and areas of study that will be analyzed


Employee Population


The methodology used in such a process is called DMAIC, which stands for: • Define • Measure • Analyze • Improve • Control In each of these process phases different tools are used to set goals, understand data, and ensure control. Six Sigma like other strategies used in business management and organizational development focus on processes, policies, and standardization. The goal is to look at things that are measurable and improve the obvious drivers revenue or cost for an organization. They focus on breaking the steps that


are taken to achieve organization processes into pieces and find things that either don’t belong, can be reduced, or eliminated. Such an approach is certainly fine for many aspects of an organization. However, in tackling large problems that involve human experience, behavior, and engagement these methods fall short. Quantitative statistical data, process flow charts, and fishbone diagrams are great at detecting inefficiencies and “defects” but they leave a huge part of the story out of the picture, the people.




The final stage focuses on sustaining a new process and the improved outcomes it produces. Often when new processes require a change in the daily tasks of people a “Control Plan” is implemented. This is a document that outlines the new process in detail and delivered to individuals who are held accountable for carrying out specific tasks with “Checks and Balances” in place.

Parto Chart

Process Flow Chart

Opportunity A goal metric to determine success




Once the current circumstances are documented they are then analyzed to identify the defects or inefficiencies. There are many tools that can be used at this point with the overall goal of isolating the root causes of an undesirable effect. One such tool is a Fishbone Diagram. This diagram looks at different components of a process, how they contribute to an outcome and why. Function / Component Cause Why



This aspect of the DMAIC method focuses on process re-design. With Six Sigma prototypes take the form of statistical models used in what is called Analysis of Variance or ANOVA. Data is used to determine the outcomes of potential improvements to a process. These models show the measurable outputs of the new process and the variance of errors that may occur to determine the best process design to move forward with Outputs of Improvement A

Outputs of Improvement B

Outputs of Improvement C

The information that is collected using these methods, however, drives how the organization understands a problem and also the decision making around how to go about addressing it.


designing conversations |

| UPHS, Intro

Four Basic Decision Procedures Out of the four major decision making processes autocratic, consultative, delegative, and joint decision making, the first three are the predominant models used in UPHS: Autocratic decision making is perhaps the most detached form of decision making, where no external parties influence the decision. Rather one individual makes the decision. While this may be appropriate for particular decisions, particularly ones that are specialized and need to made quickly, it is not an effective means for larger systematic issues. Consultative decision making is when other points of view are considered in the process, while the final decision is made by the leader. What I have seen of this process is that while more appropriate for larger issues, the tools used to collect the perspectives of the larger organization are limited. The use of surveys within organizations are useful only to a certain extent. What these surveys often produce is a surface level view of different perspectives. What is lost in this process is the raw insights of those being surveyed. These perspectives are further diluted and made into quantified data, turned into numbers that can guide the decision making. While surveys can reach a large number of individuals in a short period of


time, what I have learned in my time working with UPHS is the need people have for their input to be validated. When individuals do not have a direct connection with the decision making process or even feel as though their input was of some value in that process they become unappreciative of such tools for receiving their input. As a result people will often rush through the surveys as they no longer hold any personal value. This in turn negates the data collected that would potential guide the final decision. Delegative decision making is used as a means to place the decision making process in the hands of a specialized individual or group. As with the Autocratic and Consultative processes this method obviously has its place. However it to has some flaws when dealing with great complexity. This process contribute to the vertical and horizontal disconnect in communication as it foster silos rather than multidisciplinary collective work. Joint decision making, which is one of the four major factors of successful teamwork, is not an innate attribute of the hierarchical culture. In contrast the three major decision making processes used in organizations like UPHS add to the disempowerment and lack of transparency within the organization.


Decisions are made without asking for opinions from others.


A leader asks opinions of others but makes the final decision alone after considering input from others.


The leader gives an individual or group the authority and responsibility to make decisions.

Joint Decisions:

Decisions made by the leader and other relevant parties, such as subordinates or outside stakeholders. 23/

designing conversations |

| UPHS, Intro

What is at stake? What has resulted from this way of working are several failed initiatives to engage employes in new ways. Impersonal and limiting methods are used as an attempt to understand the values and experiences of employees. This limited understanding is then used to inform major decisions. A lack of transparency around such a decision making process leaves those affected feeling forced and unengaged. At the end of it all the projects either fail or create an unintentionally poor experience. As part of my work moving forward with UPHS I introduced new ways of engaging various employees in understanding large problems and collaborating to develop possible solutions quickly and with limited resources. The focus of this work was about improving the on-boarding experience for new managers. This was previously determined as a problem through the typical methods used in UPHS, surveys and process evaluations. With the information that was gathered a new process was drafted and delegated out to various stakeholders in the organization. However, little changed. We would be starting from scratch with a different approach and tools.

“I don’t think people believe they have a say here... they feel under

utilized and not respected...

there is not a day that goes by that I don’t write an e-mail that I look at for 20 minutes before sending it... when we have a problem, an issue, ‘well lets just schedule a meeting and miraculously the problem will be solved’...” Various UPHS Employees



designing conversations


new kensington community development corporation

designing conversations |

| NKCDC, Intro

new kensington community development corporation An introduction to a grassroots, community building organization

Overview The NKCDC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to revitalizing the Kensington, Fishtown, and Port Richmond neighborhoods in Philadelphia. Their mission is to strengthen the physical, social, and economic fabric of the community by being a catalyst for sustainable development and community building. NKCDC is a small organization with only about 2 dozen employees total. Unfortunately, the organization has faced many budget cuts recently. This has resulted in several of their satellite offices shutting down, leaving the organization with a lack of manpower and community presence in many of the areas they serve. NKCDC does however partner with many other organizations in Philadelphia to improve the quality of life in their service area. These include other specialized non-profits such as the Philadelphia Horticultural Society as well as government organizations like Parks and Recreation. On the surface it seems that much of the work they do involves the beautification and physical development of the neighborhoods they serve. The most important and challenging aspect of their work is building a capacity for leadership and unity within the communities they serve. This aspect of their work allows those living in these communities to sustain growth and control over their neighborhoods. This involves fostering the collaboration of a group of neighbors to act on their own behalf in residentdriven development.


Laura was the initial contact for NKCDC.

I facilitated an initial brainstorming session with the NKCDC team members: Laura, Kevin, and Carla. Here we generated a greater understanding of the various actors in the community and the potential issues and opportunities that existed.

Background I was first introduced to NKCDC during the initial research phase of my work. I was speaking with several design groups to learn how they work to build a capacity for collaboration and creative thinking in those they serve. I had an interview with Beth Miller from the Community Design Collaborative, an organization that provides probono front end architectural design work for nonprofits and community groups. In this interview I first learned about the NKCDC and the work they were doing. After contacting the executive director and explaining my interest in learning more about the work that NKCDC does I was able to meet with Laura, an Economic Development Assistant at NKCDC.

Laura was able to explain to me their role in involving communities in the planning and development of actions to improve their quality of life. She explained that in their work they “try to create a vision for the community” and how crucial it is it have the community drive that process. She described how the level of difficulty in this process varies depending on the economic and social issues a specific community is facing. An example she provided was a new project involving community members in an area of Kensington that was blighted with crime and poverty. “Its a big challenge to get people to think creatively when you have people who can’t get past the needles on the lot” she explained.


designing conversations |

observations of community building with nkcdc

After this initial meeting with Laura, I expressed my interest in learning more about the work they do, observing the methods and process they use, and where design could fit in. This led to further introductions to others in NKCDC and the opportunity to contribute to the new project that Laura had explained to me earlier.

How communities are working, learning, making decisions.

A community in context

This project was being directed by three members of NKCDC, Carla, the Director of Community Engagement, Kevin, The Kensington Area Neighborhood Advisory Committee Coordinator, and Laura. This team had very recently begun working with a particular group of neighbors in a community who wanted to form their own civic association, a group of neighbors striving to improve the quality of life within their community.

This specific community the project was focusing on was in the Lehigh, Somerset area of East Kensington, an area of north east Philadelphia. This specific area faces many issues surrounding economic downfall, due to the deterioration of the industries that once flourished in the area. Historically, Kensington moved from a naval building and fishing district to a steel manufacturing community. In many areas there were factories on every block and it was said that you could walk down American Street and find a job in a matter of minutes. Today, the landscape consists of old and crumbling factories where families were once able to make a steady living. Many of the diverse community members in this area have lived there for generations. They have observed first-hand the downward spiral of the economic resources in their community due to globalization.

When I began working with the NKCDC the process of building this civic had been underway for only a month. This means that there was little to no structure among the community members. Throughout the first two months of working with the NKCDC and this community, I participated and observed their process and the various methods the CDC uses to begin to build a successful community driven civic group. Throughout this partnership I was able to learn a great deal about their work as well as test several frameworks for enhancing the way they engage communities in building a capacity for collaborative work.

Many areas of the community seem abandoned. One section is known as the stairs to no where. Here the stoops of now demolished homes serve as a safe place for drug users to use.


| NKCDC, Intro

These abandoned factories and the vacant homes of those who have moved on now serve as a haven for drug use, narcotics distribution, and prostitution. The Lehigh, Somerset area in particular is only steps away from the number one top drug corner in the city of Philadelphia, the Somerset EL Stop on Somerset Street and Kensington Avenue.

Having been working in the area and traveling from center city I have frequently walked off the EL at this busy intersection. As soon as you walk out you hear the offers, “zanies, suboxone, oxy, perks, works, dope!� It is an open market, as if folks were selling fruits and vegetables. As you move beyond the drug bazaar you see cars with license plates from New Jersey, New York, and even Delaware approaching the scene. They come from all over. You then see individuals of all ages moving quickly to the grassy lot next to the Lehigh tracks where Rocky Balboa once ran. They are going there to use, to shoot up. I have seen on many occasions folks injecting themselves right on the street in shadowy corners, young people with their whole lives ahead of them. Four people died in one day on the same corner, one middle aged man and three under twenty, they had gotten a bad dose. Abandoned houses are stripped of their copper and other metal materials and are being pushed in shopping carts to the nearby scrap and salvage yard. The sealed windows and doors are pealed back just enough to see the empty food containers and orange syringe caps on the floors. Those houses that have been torn down serve as additional grassy lots for corner-boys to claim territory and sell their goods. All the while children attempt to play outside, with their parents looking out their doors and windows cautiously. This is the typical scene everyday for the neighbors living in the Lehigh, Somerset community.


Lehigh-Somerset (CENSUS TRACT 178)

Geographic Breakdown Philadelphia



NKCDC Service Area

Census Tract 178

Under 19 20-24 25-34 35-49 Over 50



$50,000 $45,000

Family Median Income


Caucasian African American Hispanic Asian 2 or more races

Less Than High School High School or Equal Up to Bachelors Degree Beyond Bachelors Degree

% of People Living in Poverty Under the age of 18

Total Population

Lehigh-Somerset Boundaries


$40,000 $35,000 $30,000 $25,000 $20,000


$15,000 $10,000

Philadelphia 50% 45% 40% 35%

39.43% 34.51%

30% 25% 20% 15% 10%







HOUSING STATUS 20.5% of Houses Are Vacant

Less Than $50k $50k to $99,999 More Than $100k

Housing Values (Owned)

Own vs Rent


More Than 30% 25% – 29.9% 20% – 24.9%








% of Gross Income on Rent

Renter Occupied Owner Occupied





Crime Statistics

15% – 19.9% Less Than 15%



Drug Arrests within a 6 block radius of Lehigh-Somerset Area from 2006 - 2010


Maximum Distance Traveled for Drug Activity







Drug Related Arrests


Powder Cocaine


30.3mi 45.4mi 29.6mi

39.1mi 72.2mi 14.3mi

12.1 mi Drug Buyer Arrests


Drug Buyers

Drug Dealers




Sources: New Kensington Community Development Corporation U.S. Census Bureau, 2006-2010 American Community Survey Temple University Dept. of Criminal Justice


20.6mi Crack Cocaine


Drug Dealer Arrests













Miles Traveled








designing conversations |

| NKCDC, Intro

A movement for change There is change coming in this community. A group of neighbors has begun to stand up and prepare the way for change. This group, the newly formed civic association that this work has been based on, is called the Somerset Neighbors for Better Living. It is a great representation of the diverse community, consisting of individuals of different cultures and ages. As a newly formed group I have seen them struggle yet maintain a sense of hope. There are many opinions and beliefs among the group members but one thing has been keeping them together, the need and desire for change. This group has been meeting monthly to have their voices heard and plan actions to move their community forward. Community meetings are held monthly in the basement of the Community Women’s Education Project Center on Somerset and Frankford Ave and are facilitated by Kevin from the NKCDC

“Our biggest challenge is changing the mentality that things will never change... You can’t make it all about you... this is about us...How can we plant the seed so the future can eat the fruit?”

Carlos, Community Champion



designing conversations |

| NKCDC, Intro

Community Actors While attending these larger group meetings I have identified three main categories of community members that exist in this space. The first is the Community Champions. These individuals are action oriented leaders who look to the future rather than dwell on the current state of the community and the problems that exist. Second is the Vocal Citizen. These individuals are problem oriented leaders who are very vocal about their individual and collective issues surrounding their community. These individuals are often of the older generation who have seen the decline of the community over the years. The obstacles that I have observed between these first two types of individuals hinder the progress and momentum of the larger group. Finally is the concerned citizen, who plays a more passive role in these larger meetings but is eager to participate in actions toward changing their community.


The conflict that occurs within these meetings has led to unproductive work and a lack of accomplishment among the community members. While these meetings are facilitated and guided by the NKCDC there are no real feedback mechanisms or ways to capture the multiple points of view of the individuals. This struck me as an opportunity. I began to ask: • How can a sense of progress and meaning become a part of these larger meetings? • How can individual perspectives not only be captured and acknowledged but also contribute to this sense of progress?

Community Champions

Vocal Citizen

Action oriented leaders

Problem oriented leaders

Focus on group unity

 lder generation who have O experienced the downward spiral of the community

Middle aged generation

Concerned Citizens  illing participants in W change More passive role Ranges in age and culture

• Most importantly how can this lack of unity be shifted towards more empowering and collaborative work among these community members?


“at these meetings, people loose control... we all have the same issues and problems and people just want to be acknowledged... But now we need to be more organized and set goals.� Renee, Community Champion

designing conversations |

The Drivers of Change

Building Unity and Leadership

Aside from the larger neighbors meetings, several committees have begun to form within the community. These were formed based on the particular interests of several community champions. I was involved in several meetings with these individuals and the internal NKCDC team to begin to plan for projects and goals.

There are two major interactive components of the work that the NKCDC does with the community group to begin to build a successful civic association. First is to hold and facilitate these large “neighbors meetings” where individuals living in the community gather to discuss their concerns engage with various guest speakers and plan potential actions for creating change within the community. Second is to aid in the formation of these community committees that consist of smaller groups of neighbors that work on specific initiatives for their community.

There are two committees I have been involved with over the course of my work with this group. The first is based around the beautification and sanitation of the outdoor spaces within the community, the Clean and Green Committee. The second is around providing opportunities for the youth in the community, the Youth Engagement Committee. Each of these committees are headed by community leaders, Carlos, Renee and Gwen, who have been essential collaborators in this work. Their goals are not only focused on these committee areas but also on bringing the community at large together around creating visible and meaningful change in the community. What I have learned in my initial conversations with these community leaders is that there is a great need for visible change, even at a smaller scale, to maintain the momentum of the community and to create the needed unity and mentality to drive change at a larger scale over time.


Through my initial observations and interviews in attending these meetings with both the internal NKCDC team and neighbors themselves it became clear that there were issues surrounding the lack of structure within the community. The community consists of individuals that exist within the same problem space but are connected through social rather than formal networks. This obviously poses several issues in building unity within the community as well as identifying and fostering leaders within this group who can act as the catalysts of action for the larger group.

| NKCDC, Intro

Problem Space

Problem Space

• Create unity within the community • Identify & foster community leadership

Here is where I found the opportunity for design to enhance collaboration and empowerment, helping community members to drive the change they seek.


designing conversations


design as a means to transform how people work, learn, and make decisions

designing conversations |

| Design, planting the seeds for transformation

planting the seeds of transformation How design can be used to change the way people work with one another

Design intentions For the two contexts in which I have been working over the course of this project the problems may differ while the level of complexity is equal. In both contexts people are trying to work toward creating change. They are trying to work together, understand and improve their environments, and grow. The building blocks of change and growth within these different contexts are the same; collaboration, and the empowerment of groups and individuals to contribute equally in the change they seek. The existing structures, methods, and cultures of both contexts have constraints in working and engaging in such ways. This is the design opportunity. By designing with both groups to create new models and methods for a more inclusive approach, design can begin to plant the seeds for such change. Here design can have an impact by producing artifacts and frameworks that can be incorporated into the daily lives of both groups to facilitate and build a capacity for new ways of working, learning, and making decisions.

An emerging design space This concept of design as a means to build a capacity and transform the way people work is not completely new. It is something that design has been moving to over the past several years. It has come about as design has expanded from the design of products and other tangible things to the design of services, experiences, and processes. As a result of this expansion designer have moved into new places, such as education, government and social services. In this emerging design space design is seen as a means rather than an end.


Design is moving As design takes on more complex problems we see a movement from the

design of “things” with a focus on the product of design to design as Focus on the “Product” of design Focus on designing for “Impact” a means for change with a focus on “impact”

Design as an end

Design as means

y & Culture Societ

y & Culture Societ

Design of...

Design for..


Design as an End


Design as a Means


designing conversations |

| Design, planting the seeds for transformation


How did design get here? GK Van Platter and Elizabeth Plastor of the NextDesign Institute have been exploring and demonstrating how design has moved into this new space of Transfomation Design. They break down the history and future of design in four stage: • Design 1.0 is the design of products.


• Design 2.0, which is where they claim design is today, is the design of services and experiences. • Design 3.0 is focused on the transformation of organizations. • Design 4.0 is even broader and larger in scale and focuses on the social transfromation. In both design 3.0 and 4.0 the role of design is to build a capacity within groups to adapt to dynamic complex environments. This is called Transformation Design. Next Design illustrates several shifts that are occurring leading to this point. These include an increasing number of stakeholders designers are now working to address, the increasing complexity of issues we are facing, and the need for multidisciplinary collaboration in both problem understanding and problem solving. With all of this in mind the “toolbox” of the designer, as they call it, must expand to address these issues and begin to build the capacity within non-design groups to continually adapt creatively to their changing environments. However if our toolbox must expand, I wonder what we are filling it with? What are the things designers and non-designers need to work in Design 3.0 and 4.0?


Next Design Institute’s “NextDesign Geographies” breaks down how design has gotten to where it is today and where it is going next.




designing conversations |

Transformation design (theory) While groups like NextDesign have been advocating and educating others about this new design paradigm, others have focused more on the theory of Transformation Design itself. Design researchers are beginning to analyze this emerging design practice with the goal of identifying the underlying principles and impact of such work. Daniela Sangiogri, of Lancaster University, describes Transformation Design as the shift from the design outcome as an object or design as an end to design as a means in itsself to create fundamental change. In her paper “Transformative Services and Transformative Design”, Sangiorgi outlines six practices and principles of Transformation Design: • The first is the “active citizen”, which is the empowerment of citizens in a community or organization as ‘agents’ in the creation of change. • The second principle Sangiorgi describes is “building capacities and project partnerships”. Here Sangiorgi describes the practice of participatory design and the potential of the residual affects of such an engagement in changing behaviors and processes towards a more creative capacity. So here we must consider how we can design ways that allow individuals with different perspectives and needs to collaborate with one another in creative ways? • Third is the “redistribution of power’ where the designer and other outside project collaborators


| Design, planting the seeds for transformation

do not control the creative process but support and empower the “expert” community members to accomplish tasks? • F ourth is ‘infrastructures and enabling platforms’ allowing individuals to shape not only the process of creation but also the outcomes, allowing for continuous change and ownership. • F ifth is the concept of ‘community as intervention size’, which is the importance of involving the community at large, meaning all stakeholders in the process of developing change. • F inally is “enhancing imagination and hope” which is the building of trust within a community in itsself to have the capacity to make change and shape their own future. This final principle is the outcome of a successful Transformative Design effort. All of this theory that Sangiorgi outlines begins to point to the kinds of tools that would fill the toolbox that Platter and Plastor were referring to. What kinds of tools can provide the scaffolding needed for non-designers to move through a process, generate outcomes, and at the end of the day call it their own? While Sangiorgi outlines this recipe for Transformation Design, it lead me to further questions:

Active Citizen

Community as Intervention Size

Enhancing Imagination & Hope

Infrastructures & Enabling Platforms

Building Capacities & Project Partnerships

Redistribution of Power

• What does this look like? Who is doing this work? • What are the tools they are using? • What impact do they have?

Daniela Sangiorgi outlines the principles of Transformation design in her paper, “Transformative Services and Transformation Design”


designing conversations |

| Design, planting the seeds for transformation

Transformation design (practice) The Red Design Council has been exploring the practice and advocating for Transformative Design. In their RED Paper 02, they outline several projects as case studies for this approach. These include: improving life with diabetes, innovating a supply chain, improving relationships with patients, and transforming rural transport. All of these projects worked to empower non-design groups to shape new futures in creative ways. While basic principles of a design approach, understanding human needs, making things visible, and prototyping, are evident they are put in the hands of non-designers. This allows for open conversation and shared understanding through co-creation. In all of these case studies the Red Team has pointed to six characteristics similar to that of Sangiorgi: • F irst is “defining and redefining the design brief”. Problems organizations face are often complex and unclear at the onset of a given project. For this reason, there must be a collaborative process of first understanding the underlying root issues an organization faces. • S econd is “collaborating between disciplines’’ where the designer acts as the medium between often-disparate entities and facilitates meaningful conversation and collaboration towards a common goal.

• F ourth is “building capacity, not dependency”, another point touched on by Sangiorgi. • F ifth is “designing beyond traditional solutions” which speaks to the major difference between design 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0,4.0 outlined by Next design. Here the focus is not in developing objects or services but supports for new roles, behaviors, policy, or activities within an organization or community. • F inally is “creating fundamental change” which is defined by the capacity for ongoing change, a paradigm shift as the result of the adaptation of tools that can be incorporated to the day-to-day work and lives of an organization or community. As with Sangiogri’s final principle, ‘enhancing imagination and hope’, this is the outcome of the Transformational Design approach. Here individuals and groups develop a sense of selfefficacy, which is the belief in ones own ability to create desired change and control their environment.

The RED design team used a participatory approach when researching how people with diabetes were living. Through out this process they involved people with diabetes, various medical experts, and designers.

• Third is “employing participatory design techniques”, which Sangiorgi also points to in her work, allowing the experts of their own environment to work towards creative problem solving through design methods.



designing conversations |

defining an inclusive approach What is Participatory Design and Co-Design?

All three of the previous perspectives of this emerging design practice seem to be talking about similar things in regards to how we have gotten to this point and what it could look like. There are simply different ways of saying it. All of them distinguish major shifts from how and with whom the design process begins, who is doing the ‘designing’, and what is actually being designed.

participatory design The participatory design approach has commonly been used as a method of design research. In this practice the ‘expert users’ or those who would be affected by a potential design solution are involved in exploring potential future scenarios. Participants will often use ‘generative tools’ that consist of materials such as cut paper shapes, words, magazine clippings or pictures, and threedimensional Velcro forms. The participants use these materials to create representations of a given concept. The concepts these participants explore can range in both focus and representation from the abstract to the concrete. As a research method the participatory approach provides insights through both the representations formed by participants as well as the conversations that occur during this process. In this way both the participants explicit and tacit knowledge around a given subject becomes more accessible to the design researcher.


By using “generative tools” in this process, where physical objects are manipulated to create representations, a common language is formed to generate understanding between the different communities of practice, particularly between the designer and user. This transfer of knowledge is referred to as language-games in which the objects of design or ‘boundary objects’ act as a common ground between individuals. “Early attempts to conceptualize participatory design as a pragmatic design theory were done through reference to Wittgenstein and the language-game philosophy. Design was seen as meaningful participation in intertwined language-games of design and use (professional designers and professional users), where ‘performative’ design artifacts such as prototypes and ‘design games’ could act as representative ‘boundary objects’ binding the different language-games together.” (Ehn). With this in mind, how do we incorporate such methods as a means to empower organizations and communities? Co-design is a step in this direction, which takes the emphasis of participatory design beyond a means of research.

“Participatory design started from the simple standpoint that those affected by a design should have a say in the design process.”

| Design, planting the seeds for transformation

Tools in Participatory Design Brainstorming & Ideating

Paper-mockups & Sorting

Mapping & Sensemaking

2-d/3-D Representation Building

Representation Types Current State

Ideal Scenarios

Feasible Future

Task Complexity

Pelle Ehn


designing conversations |

| Design, planting the seeds for transformation

co-design vs. co-creation Co-design and co-creation are facets of participatory design. Where as Participatory Design has been traditionally used as a form of design research, those involved in Co-design play an active role through out the design process. Co-design and co-creation refer to the act of giving form to a body of work or solution through the active involvement of various communities of practice in collective creativity. However, it is important to distinguish between co-creation and co-design. Co-creation is a broader term “with applications ranging from the physical to the metaphysical and from the material to the spiritual, as can be seen by the output of search engines” (Sanders). Co-creation is common today as the Internet is being used as a medium for individuals and groups to express them selves and connect with one another. We see these in the form of projects such as open-source websites like Wikipedia and blog websites such as tumblr. Co-design on the other hand is a form of co-creation where multiple communities of practice with a shared interest collaborate through out an entire design process. This means that a group of individuals actively participate from the definition of the problem or project goal to the execution or ‘design’ of a solution or new opportunities. In this way those who are living in a particular design or problem space, the ‘users’ , as well as other stakeholders or communities of interest work collaboratively with designers and possibly other disciplines. In this process the title of expert does not fall on the designer but on those who would have value in a potential solution or design.


Participatory Design as Research

Co-design is a form of co-creation where multiple communities of practice with a shared interest collaborate through out an entire design process. Sanders



(Individual Knowledge & Expertise)

(Collective Knowledge & Expertise)


designing conversations |

| Design, planting the seeds for transformation

Problem Definition

a blurring of roles In the past the designers role and that of the different players involved in the design process have been clearly defined. Stakeholders have their own value, authority, and responsibility. In the traditional practice there are three main players: the client, the designer, and the customer/user. In a typical project there are multiple touch-points in which these players would interact in a system of inputs and outputs. The client’s initial role has been to define the problem or design space in which the designer will be working. This is delivered in the form of the ‘design brief’. At this point the designer, or design researcher, employs different methods of research to gain insights from users who are viewed as a subject of study. Through out this research phase there are several interactions between the subject being studied and the designer to build a body of information. Once enough data has been collected the designer then works alone, or in collaboration with other ‘design experts’ to develop concepts or prototypes that address the given design brief. Once these are communicated back to the client and evaluated the designer may work with the client to further plan for the production and/or implementation of a design.



Develops Design Brief based on goals


Design is implemented

Client Employs Research methods to gain insights

Develops Concepts based on user insights

Assists with planning and strategy for production


“Users” as subjects of study




What were once clients and subjects of study become pseudo-designers. In this practice the designer’s role is not that of the expert, who shapes the solutions but the facilitator of creativity and collaboration. The designer must facilitate multiple stakeholders, with potentially opposing points of view, through a process of collective understanding, exploration, discovery, and action. This is however easier said then done. I have found that many people do not believe they are creative and even avoid creative tasks such as making simple drawings to represent their ideas. There is also a connotation that design has created for itsself as being something magical and unique to only certain individuals. On the other hand there is also much resistance on the side of the design profession around the concept of co-design. If everyone can design what do we have to offer? However we should not look at the application of design or design methods by non-designers as a threat but rather a challenge and opportunity that opens new doors. More importantly, as it relates to Transformation design, we should look at this concept as a means to create change in organizations and communities. How can we design ways for these groups to use design as a way to learn, collaborate, and make better decisions that create value and impact?


| Design, planting the seeds for transformation

A Growing Design Space

ry ove sc Di

With co-design these roles are blurred. Co-design is becoming a necessary tool for addressing the complexity of the growing design space. As a result, traditional roles in the design process become blurred.

Expl ora tio n

designing conversations |


As Co-design is becoming a necessary tool for addressing the complexity of the growing design space, traditional roles in the design process become blurred.


A c ti o n

The designer must facilitate multiple stakeholders, with potentially opposing points of view, through a process of understanding, exploration, discovery, and action.




Client Client Design Space Design Design Space Space

Design Space



Design Designer Designer Space

“User” “User”





designing conversations |

How and to what degree can nondesigners use design? The notion of designing how non-designers design is not about having everyday people making creative ‘things’. It is about giving people control, frameworks, and tools for learning and generating change for themselves and those around them. However it is important to understand how nondesigners or ‘everyday people’ can operate in terms of creative expression. There has been a great deal of research around the idea of everyday creativity and how people operate at different levels depending on their skill set and interest in a given task. One contributor to this research is Elizabeth Sanders. Sanders is a design researcher, practitioner, and advocate for the application of co-design and participatory practices.

| Design, planting the seeds for transformation

Sanders explains people can be engaged in different ways at each of these levels. She explains that the designer must ‘Lead’ those who are on the ‘Doing’ level, ‘Guide’ those on the ‘Adapting’ level, ‘Provide Scaffolds that support and serve peoples’ needs for expression at the ‘Making’ level and finally ‘Offer a Clean Slate’ for those at the creating level. While this seems very clear, my question has been, how do we know which approach to use when it applies to both organizations and communities and how exactly is this done?

“Designers in the future will make the tools for non-designers to use to express themselves creatively.” Sanders

In her paper, Co-creation and the new landscapes of Design, Sanders outlines four different levels of creativity that people operate in depending on their motivation and purpose for a given task. These levels range from ‘Creating’ at the highest level, going down through ‘Making’ ‘Adapting’ and finally ‘Doing’ at the lowest level.



designing conversations |

| Design, planting the seeds for transformation

local perspectives How are design groups working here in Philadelphia?

As both of the contexts in which I was working were based in Philadelphia I wanted to learn more about how some of the local design groups were working. • How they were building a capacity for growth and learning in their clients, if at all? • What obstacles have they found in attempting such work? In order to gain a broad understanding of how designers were working I interviewed representatives from three design groups with different areas of focus and expertise. The first was The Community Design Collaborative. This group specializes in Architecture and Urban Planning. They provide pro-bono ‘pre development design services to nonprofit organizations’. Second was The Action Mill, a strategic design firm that helps their clients engage various stakeholders through ‘meaningful action’. I also spoke with Mark Waldo from Electronic Ink, which is a ‘business system design consultancy dedicated to improving the way people interact with technology, environments and one another’.


Each of these three groups offers their own particular services and work in different environments. I wanted to learn from these different perspectives how they see design, and their particular process, effecting change in those they serve through their work.

By gaining such an understanding my goal was to gauge: ONE, to what degree design can be used to increase collaboration and empowerment within organizations and communities, TWO how these different groups viewed such a goal in terms of their design responsibilities, and THREE what they had experienced and seen in attempting such work.


designing conversations |

community design collaborative

What I learned through my interview with Beth is that the onus of understanding the priorities of the community falls on that CDC. This means, in terms of the role of design, the Collaborative is offering very specialized services that do not directly involve the community members at large in the development of solutions.

Beth Miller, Executive Director

My interview with Beth was somewhat brief as they were hosting a Design Charrette at the time of the interview. However in the short time I spoke with her I was able to grasp and understand how their organization was working and serving the community through design. The Community Design Collaborative, as Beth puts it, tries to bridge the gap for people who cannot hire design professionals and provide them with access to design service. A major part of what they do is make more concrete the vision of a given community on both the specific project and master planning level. They do this buy visualizing concepts and laying the groundwork for the front end of community projects including cost estimates and resource analysis. Their clients are most often Community Development Corporations who work more directly with the community. However one of the major problems with this kind of work, besides allocating funding and creating buy-in for such projects, is actually developing projects that the community feels ownership over. In Philadelphia there are many communities who cannot get past the poverty and crime they experience everyday. As I have discovered in my work it is important for these communities to be a part of the change they seek. However often times these projects are completed and the community does not feel ownership or true appreciation for them.

| Design, planting the seeds for transformation

These question informed the direction for understanding how communities were working toward creating their own positive change. This eventually led to my collaborative partnership with NKCDC

This made me curious as to how these conversations were happening. •H  ow is a community consensus established around what steps should be taken to improve their quality of life? •H  ow can design play a role in this part of the process?

“We hope that the organization finds the needs of the community... Figuring out priorities can be tricky and political...” Beth Miller, Executive Director



designing conversations |

| Design, planting the seeds for transformation

the action mill Core Team Members

I spoke with the small group at The Action Mill and learned a great deal about how they approach their work. They use a process to establish a mutual understanding with their clients from the beginning. One of the most important things they try to do is to get the group to externalize and make their thoughts and ideas more visual. This involves “setting the stage” or space where this externalization can happen. This space allows people to think more dynamically, letting go of assumptions and preexisting plans. For example, they begin by creating a physical agenda with cards or post-its. In this way different points can be shifted around, as needed, giving a sense of flexibility around different tasks. They also use 3-dimensional objects as a means to think metaphorically about different concepts. They believe that by using, often abstract, forms to create representations can bring people to a more creative space, where new levels of understanding can emerge. They also use tools that manage common frustrating aspects of group work, such as managing time. They use cards as prompts individuals can use to come to agreement on how long different tasks should take. By making their process and tools “relevant, simple, clear, and practical” as well as co-designing with their clients they believe there is an inherent difference in the way their clients work beyond their time with them. Whether that is an adoption of concepts, vocabulary, or even attitude. The group emphasized the fact that this is not as simple as handing over these ‘tools’ and expecting the clients to do the work. Rather there is the need for this process to be facilitated


“One fundamental aspect is getting non-designer groups to understand the value of making things visible.” Jethro Heiko

and experienced. In this sense, it is not about a universal ‘tool’ that can be applied to all problems but a process that allows individuals to adapt tools to different problems and understand how to learn from that process. All of this made me think about the tangible aspects of the design process and how the physical manipulation of information allows designers to think more clearly about complex amounts of information.

So why is such a method so useful and how can it become a part of the everyday processes of nondesign groups? As in the approach used by The Action Mill how can designers make such methods ‘practical’ enough to be of use in the every day work of individuals? More importantly how do both designers and non-designers know how to use such methods and when?

This is also a fundamental aspect of traditional participatory design research, where non-designers create physical 2-D or 3-D representations of their particular points-of-view. 67/

designing conversations |

electronic ink

designer is asked to step in. This is the traditional design model explained earlier. The design brief, developed by the client, guides the design direction.

Mark Waldo, Principle Design Strategy

Mark had worked as a consultant UPHS before. In my interview with him he shared several experiences he had working within this UPHS and many others over the course of his career. Of particular interest was his experience with resistance to change and the anxiety many people had in regards to the design process.

However, as Mark explained, this is often a misguided or less optimal direction once design research uncovers insights that expose the real issues or underlying aspect of a particular design space. For this reason Mark often struggles with clients to bring ‘design’ back to the front end of the process, where the actual direction for the project is determined.

From this conversation I learned that the design consultancy model was constraining when trying to effect change within such an environment. Because of the structure of the consultancy model where the designer is seen as the ‘expert’ there are pre determined expectations and deliverables. As a result involving clients in the design process is not a common or expected practice. Mark explained that while the attempt is made to make the design process transparent and the collaboration of the client is ideal, this is complicated by the organizational structure. He explained that while in most cases he is able to involve his direct contact in the process, that contact has their own internal client, i.e. their boss, who is often disconnected from that process. In fact there is often a whole system of client stakeholders that are indirectly involved in a given project. Another interesting aspect of this conversation with Mark was where his is work typically begins. He explained how the clients he works with often go through their own process of identifying a problem or area of opportunity. Once the client has identified this area they will make a decision as to what the best solution or product would be. It is at this point that the

| Design, planting the seeds for transformation

degree, several questions still remains: •H  ow de we move beyond transparency and reach adoptability? •H  ow and to what degree can non-designers use design principles as means to grow and learn in different ways that allow for continuous change? •H  ow can designers become the catalysts of such knowledge?

These insights provide a clearer picture around the potential obstacles in co-designing in organizations. While we see the design process becoming more transparent and therefore valued to a greater

“As a consultant, it seems to be the rule that I’ am brought in to do stuff that the organization can’t do... I have never seen anything we do move into the organization.” Mark Waldo



Traditional Level of Interaction

Client Stakeholders

Level A

Constraints of the consultancy model In the design consultancy model there are clear disconnects between client stakeholders, designers, and users. These disconnects limit

learning and understanding around a given problem or opportunity space. Level B

Designer User Business Planning

Product Planning

Client Process

Product Management



Design Process


designing conversations


design direction

designing conversations |

theory What is Collaboration & Empowerment?

While large organizations and communities are obviously different in terms of structure, goals, environment and so on, these two terms hold the same meaning in each case. In fact I will argue that they are the key to true growth within each model. I will also argue that they are often the biggest obstacles for progress in building a capacity for change. The words ‘collaboration’ and ‘empowerment’ unfortunately are used all too often. What people call empowerment or collaboration can often be the opposite or a watered down example. For this reason I would like to emphasize how I understand these terms and how they directly relate to the goal and intention of this work.

| Design direction

“ [collaboration is when] collaborators operate as a team to achieve a common purpose by working together (high interdependence) and by gaining new insights (creativity).” Michael Scharge

“ [empowerment is] a social action process that promotes participation of people, organizations, and communities.” Wallerstein and Bernstein



designing conversations |

collaboration Collaboration is an act of collective work. In this way of working, groups of two or more people work collectively towards a common goal. In such a work group different perspectives are equally valued and there is minimal if any hierarchy of authority. Collaboration is a learning process where both the explicit and tacit knowledge of each individual is made available to the collective group. Effective collaborative groups will leverage the individual strengths and knowledge that each individual brings to the table, creating a ‘group’s shared mind’ (steelcase). Within collaborative teams this high level of interdependence allows for new insights to be realized. As a result the collaborative team is more effective in solving complex problems and creating more holistic solutions. The underlying value of collaboration and how it actually functions is based on interaction. Michael Scharge, author of Shared Minds: The New Technologies of Collaboration, has identified through his research three levels of ‘perceived interaction’. 1) Coordinate, where individuals operate independently and interact to accommodate their own specific needs, sharing information, but not as part of a working group or a team. 2) Communicate, where a group of individuals exchange information as part of a community of interest, but not to achieve a common goal. 3) Collaborate, a group of individuals operate as a team to achieve a common purpose by working together and gaining new insights.


If you want to go quickly, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.”

| Design direction

Levels of perceived interaction

African Proverb



Without support systems in place, watered-down notions of ‘teamwork’ often trump genuine collaborative interaction. Michael Scharge


Scharge also points to the fact that often times groups do not know how to collaborate with one another or lack the supporting structures to do so. I have found this to be an interesting design opportunity and a driving force for my work. How can we design such supporting structures and what obstacles exist? How are these structures and obstacles similar and how do they differ in organizations and communities? 77/

designing conversations |

| Design direction

empowerment Empowerment can be seen as a result of collaboration when it is done correctly. Empowerment is a process of overall change where control is placed in the hands of those affected by such change. In terms of organizational and community growth, both collaboration and empowerment can be seen not only as a means to create change and solve complex problems but also as an means for such ways of working to become part of the groups culture overtime, There has been much research around the concept of empowerment, particularly as it pertains to the organizational level. This has been an area of interest more recently as many are beginning to realize that a balance of individual autonomy, which directly relates to empowerment, and collective work, or collaboration, “increases commitment to work, better decisions, improved quality, more innovation, and increased job satisfaction”(Yukl and Becker).

“empowerment is both a process and a goal” Swift and Levin

When empowerment is viewed as both a process and a goal, as Swift and Levin define it, we can see a clear parallel between empowerment and collaboration. When combined these two concepts address the needs for growth, learning, and change at the individual level as well as the group or larger community level. Over time the locus of control, which is the extent to which people feel they have the ability to control events that effect them, is increased at both levels. What becomes most important is the will to share knowledge and take collective action toward a desired goal, which can strengthen the ability to create meaningful change. For both organizations and communities the benefits of empowerment through effective collaboration can be seen

as a means to “facilitate cognitive growth and awareness through the transfer of knowledge among individuals who might not otherwise share information” (Yukl and Becker). As these concepts relate to the new design space of Transformation Design, the question becomes how can design facilitate collaboration and empowerment within organizations and communities? How can we design the scaffolding and create value in allowing otherwise disempowered groups to contribute to and guide both the understanding of a given problem and the decision making process of implementing potential solutions.

Similarly, there has been an increasing understanding that, at the community level, empowerment is crucial to making any significant progress in addressing some of the major problems we face today. “Across the political spectrum the consensus is emerging that our nation’s most pressing problems - from environmental devastation and drugs to declining participation in elections - simply cannot be resolved without the reinvigoration of public life. The very complexity, depth and scope of today’s problems require more active practice of citizenship, motivated by a perception of a ‘commons’ in which we have a stake.” (Boyte and Lappe, 1990, p. 417).



designing conversations |

conditions for collaboration & empowerment

To begin to answer these question and develop strategies where design can facilitate such work, it is worth understanding the conditions in which collaboration and empowerment are successful. To do this we must look at both the psychology of the individual and the group as one entity. In this way the internal mechanisms and external conditions can be rationalized and understood as a machine that drives effective work. From an internal perspective, there are four factors that make collaborative work empowering: • The first is ‘meaningfulness’, which is the value of the task goal or purpose judged in relation to each individuals own ideals or standards. • Second is ‘competence’. This refers to the degree to which a person or group feels they can perform tasks or activities successfully. • Third is ‘choice’ or a responsibility for actions and selfdetermined behavior. • And finally is ‘impact’. The degree to which behavior is seen as making a difference in terms of accomplishing a given goal.

Factors of Empowerment

| Design direction

Conditions for Successful Team Work Interdependence:


Each person has a stake in the problem.

Leadership: Impact

Individuals are willing to take risks to improve group performance .


Joint Decisions:

All members agree to par ticipate .

Equal Opportunity:


Each person has a chance to influence the agenda. Components of Psychological Empowerment: Yukl and Becker, Effective Empowerment in Organizations

The Four Conditions for Successful Team Work: Weisbord, Productive Workplaces, Dignity, Meaning, and Community in the 21st century

Along with these internal factors that drive a psychological state of empowerment within a group there are an additional four conditions that must come into play for the team to be successful. These conditions, with a dual focus on task and process, allow individuals to move from “competition and individualism to cooperation and wholeness” (Weisborg). • The first is ‘interdependence’ where each person in a group has a stake in the problem and teamwork is valued as an asset to accomplishing a goal. • S econd is ‘leadership’ where risks are willing to be taken to produce optimal outcomes.


• Third is ‘joint decision making’ where all members of a group agree to participate in the group tasks and overall process. • F ourth is ‘equal opportunity for input’ where the groups tasks and process are flexible enough for each person to influence the agenda. Each of these conditions has different meaning and potential challenges in the contexts of organizations and communities. My goal has been to understand these differences and design different strategies and frameworks for creating a means to foster these conditions with the intention of enhancing collaboration and empowerment in both models. 81/

designing conversations |

‘artifacts’ & ‘play’ in learning, collaboration, & empowerment Throughout a typical design process, the creation and use of artifacts that aid in the collection and understanding of information are common. These artifacts are commonly referred to as ‘design tools’. These can range from the creation of information graphics that make complex information more manageable to the use of post-its to capture smaller pieces of information that can be moved around and prioritized.

“when thinking is made visible to others, learning is accelerated” Steelcase

While such methods are often first hand to the designer in managing the design process there are several concepts behind the use of such artifacts that contribute to how people learn and interact with one another in collaborative work. As previously discussed around the concept of Participatory design, the use of physical artifacts and ‘generative tools’ act as the mediators of collective work. These artifacts act as boundary objects that bridge the gap between the language of the design researcher and the participants. However, beyond the design work that occurs within Participatory Design, we find that the general use of visual communication and artifacts creates a common ground from which groups can work more transparently with one another. From a cognitive standpoint, artifacts that aid in decreasing the cognitive load in understanding information are called cognitive artifacts. The use of these artifacts, which are physical in nature, to facilitate cognition is called epistemic action. A great example of this is the classic shape and sort toy that many of us have played with during very early childhood. Learning that a square peg does not fit in a round hole is how infants can begin to understand form and space through trial and error and play. Continuously throughout our lives we play games to help us


| Design direction

Play and Sort Game

understand and learn how things work. As we get older many of these games become competitive or collaborative. We begin to play in groups and learn from one another through play. As adults it is not often that we think of ‘playing’ with one another. However research has shown that it can not only increase collective leaning but build trust and a sense of community among groups of individuals even if they have no prior relationships with each other. “Playful learning is active, enjoyable and ‘concerned with the creation of meaning through dialogue with others and through the process of self-reflection and personal transformation (Mezirow 1985)’ (Melamed 1987: 18).

These theories of understanding and collaborative work through the physical manipulation of artifacts and play are interesting from the standpoint of empowerment as well. As long as these artifacts and ‘rules of the game’ are made accessible and transparent, anyone can contribute to the work. So how can these concepts become integrated and useful to the work of organizations and communities and how can design facilitate that integration?


designing conversations |

| Design direction

approach By understanding how the two extremes of a large hierarchical organization and grassroots community movement both operate and the obstacles they face I would be able to design frameworks within which methods for empowerment and collaboration can grow. By making these frameworks practical and relevant for each particular environment my hope is to develop approaches or strategies to working in new ways for both the design community working with, not for, these different groups and within the groups themselves beyond the designers time there. In the following two sections I will outline my interactions with both UPHS and NKCDC as well as the frameworks and tools I have tested in each context.



designing conversations CASE STUDY:

Framework Prototypes Generating collective evidence, collaborative sense-making, & involving the whole system

Improving on-boarding for newly hired managers


university of pennsylvania health system

designing conversations |


The ‘client’ objective for this 10 week project was to identify opportunities for improving the on-boarding experience for newly hired managers. Their initial vision was to create a ‘new manager starter-kit’ that would help to guide new managers Design frameworks for collaboration and empowerment in UPHS Client Focus: Improving on-boarding for newly hired managers

The project that follows, while with a specific direction, has allowed for prototypes and frameworks to be tested that enhance collaboration and empowerment within UPHS. While facilitated in collaboration with two other designers, Meghan Conley, Ben Hillson, and myself the overall goal has been to design new ways for this organization to approach complexity, learning, and change. A major aspect of such work has been to create value for different ways of working, as well as making them practical and easily adoptable, so that the seed of transformation can grow beyond our time there.

through their first 180 days of employment. This organization on-boards approximately 150 newly hired and promoted managers each year. The sheer size of this

organization, with an employee population of over 20,000, and over 60 interconnected and dispersed buildings in and around the Philadelphia area, makes getting acclimated no easy task.

Additionally the hierarchical culture adds another level of complexity around politics, communication, and ‘getting in’.

Our goal was to understand the many perspectives around this on-boarding process, generate collective evidence through out our research and involve the whole system in generating potential solutions. /88


generating collective evidence

designing conversations |


Newly hired manager focus groups Over the course of these 10 weeks we worked with many of the different actors involved in the on-boarding process. Of particular importance were the newly hired managers them selves. We facilitated 3 focus groups with managers who had recently completed their 180 day probationary, on-boarding, period. Using post-its and large sheets of paper, the framework we designed allowed group members to move through a process of individual reflection to collective group sharing. Our goal was to design the structure of this focus group in a way that made individual thinking and experience visible and tangible so that it could become more accessible within the group. Our role as designers in this process was to create the framework that would allow for a great amount of autonomy within the group. They would be driving the work and discussions and our role was to simply facilitate and make clear the different steps of the process. As a result the group would have more ownership over the outcomes of their work. The tangible nature of the tools that were used would also help in presenting information back to our core client group and other potential stakeholders. We call this generating collective evidence. This idea of having the raw information become more transparent to all levels of stakeholders has been essential to this project. It allows for all involved to have their own ‘ah-ha’ moments and contribute to the direction and codesign through out the process.

14 3 Groups

Participants /92


designing conversations |

The focus groups began with an ice breaking exercise. At the top of each individual’s sheet of paper we asked them to make a simple drawing of themselves and a brief description of their role in the organization. Once this was done each person hung their sheet on the wall and gave a brief introduction. The use of simple drawings added a level of humor to the introductions where any sense of pressure or anxiety could be relieved. The group was then asked to outline their needs on post-its that could be placed on a timeline, of 30,60,90, and 180 days of on-boarding. The group was given a period of time for each section of on the timeline. After each section the participants would place their individual needs on their sheet. After each section, people shared what they had written and the group discussed similarities and differences among one another. This allowed for insights to be built upon throughout the focus group. It was common for people to share how they had overcome certain obstacles and as insights were shared. This also sparked memories among individuals about needs they may have overlooked. Once the group had moved through the timeline and shared their experiences they then worked to pull out the common themes that had been discussed. Using the individual experience sheets as a reference the group worked collaboratively to create a new ‘our needs’ sheet. This sheet encompassed the overall needs of the group.


In this process the group moved through a series tasks: individual generation, open discussion and sharing, and collective understanding. Because the insights that were generated were visible and tangible the group was able to establish a great degree of unity as they reached common ground in understanding one another. They were also able to validate that their individual and collective input was captured. This provides the group with the satisfaction of insuring that their voice had been heard. Me


Introductions: 2 min for drawing 2 min for introduction

Individual Reflection: 2.5 min per person for each of the four timeframes

My Role

My Needs First 30 days

Each person made a simple drawing of themselves on their personal sheet of paper. Everyone then stuck their sheet to the wall and introduced them selves.

Each was given time to write down their individual needs on post-its for each timeframe on the sheet.

Collective Group Sharing: 5 min per tim frame for sharing and discussing needs

After each timeframe brainstorm session was complete each person placed their post-its on their sheet and volunteers shared their needs for that period of time. After this a larger group discussion was had about the needs that were mentioned.

My Needs First 60 days

Group Synthesis: My Needs First 90 days

5 min to discuss and identify common themes

Once all of the timeframes had been covered the group worked as a team to identify the common themes for each time frame.

Our Needs:

My Needs First 180 days 5 min for closing remarks and comments on the collective needs of the group

The common themes that were identified and agreed upon by the group as a whole we then rewritten and place on an new “our needs” sheet.


designing conversations |


H.R. Generalist Focus Group Another group we had identified in the on-boarding process as key to understanding the potential for improvements and opportunities were the HR Generalists. The generalist holds a great deal of responsibility in ensuring that a new employee becomes acclimated to the organization. They act as a resource for both safe problem solving and checking in with the new employee at various touch points. We held a focus group with 9 generalists and used a framework similar to that of the new manager groups. Here we attempted to learn not only about their point of view on the struggles of new managers but also their struggles as well. This was essential in ensuring the meaningfulness of the work, which is the driving force of empowerment. We posed the group with four questions around this area written on large sheets of paper. The group went through a cycle of individual answer generation to larger group discussion. After the group took time to write their individual answers down on post-its, we collected them and placed them on the large sheets. We then asked for volunteers to share their thoughts. They were more than willing, and there was great discussion around many different topics. As answers were provided individually, the larger group discussion was a means to fill in the blanks and identify larger themes. As the facilitators of this conversation, we captured these insights on our own post-its and presented them back to the group before adding them to the larger sheet holding their individual answers. By this point in our ‘discovery period’ it was becoming clear that aside from generating solutions for just new managers, there was a need for more wholistic solutions that would aid all involved in the on-boarding process.


Ben and Meghan co-facilitating the HR Generalist focus group.


Participants 99/

designing conversations |

Stakeholder Interviews At the same time we were conducting these focus groups we began to interview various other stakeholders involved in the on-boarding of new managers. These were individuals from all across the organization. These interviews provided insights from both the upper-management and leadership levels.




While many of these interviews were with single individuals we kept the tangible and visible qualities of the focus groups. By posing several questions on a large sheet we were able to represent the responses of the interviewee in real time allowing them to validate their input. These questions consisted of defining qualities of leadership, defining supportive roles, and what is and isn’t working with the current on-boarding process. As the discussion progressed both the interviewee and interviewer used different colors to capture the main points. The visual nature of this interview method allowed for realizations to occur as the interviewee was able to ‘see’ their thoughts and how they were connected. In the case of defining roles, many interviewees realized how much of the responsibilities around insuring a successful on-boarding experience fell on the hiring manager. This was a consistent theme throughout our discover phase. It was clear that rather than developing a ‘starter-kit’ for new managers, the solution should be beneficial to many different stakeholders involved it this process.



collaborative sense-making

designing conversations |


Core Group Understanding While gathering evidence of these various points of view through these 19 stakeholder interviews, 3 new manager focus groups and generalist focus group, we were trying to make sense of what we were learning. An important aspect of the sense-making process was to involve our core client group. Through this process we all began to realize, collectively, that the information pointed to something more than a starter kit for new managers. It needed to facilitate productive conversations between various actors in order to ensure clarity for everyone. This was a consistent point of view that was generated through the visible quality of the interview framework as well as the focus group methods. As the representations that were generated were accessible and transportable it was easy to share with our core group. At different points throughout our discovery phase we brought these representations into our weekly meetings with our core group. At these points we allotted time for everyone to immerse themselves in the information that covered the walls. We asked each person at the meeting to take some time to look for common themes and what they found most interesting. They each wrote these themes on post-its, which were collected and brought together. This allowed our internal group to discuss the raw information and what it meant to everyone. We took the individual post-its and clustered them, refining the common themes even further.



5 min to look at all of the information and identify to insights

Each on our core team was given time to look at all of the information that had been collected and identify interesting points and common themes

Insight Collection: 2 min for each person to write down their top insights

Each individual was given 5 post-its to write down the top insights they had identified.

Discoveries: 5 min to cluster and discuss

Every ones insights were collected and grouped based on similarity by the designers. These clusters were then given topic names by the group as a whole and were used to refine the research focus.


designing conversations |

Once these themes were clustered we gave each cluster a name. We called these discoveries. These discoveries were used to refine the focus group and interview directions throughout our discovery phase. We also generated visuals that took the information we had been gathering out of these raw individual sheets and provided a more wholistic view. These visuals clarified the common themes that were being identified both with our internal group and in our studio. These visuals made clear both the obstacles that hindered the successful acclimation of new managers to the organization and the overall confusion of supporting roles. Just who was responsible for ensuring that these obstacles were being addressed? How can we create a ‘starter-kit’ that resolves these issues for everyone involved in the process, clarify roles, and provide supporting structures through for these roles out onboarding? The ‘ah-ha’ moments were shared within our core group.


Our next steps were to bring this information to all that were involved in the ‘discovery phase’. We wanted to bring those who generated the evidence that brought our smaller group to a high level of understanding into the next phase of the project, developing potential solutions. In contrast to how this organization typically ‘rolls’ out new systems, we wanted to continue the conversation with those who had been a part of the process up to this point. For these reasons we decided to hold a workshop that included everyone. We wanted to involve the whole system. In this workshop we would codesign the beginnings of solutions with those who would be affected by those solutions.

By this point, through collaboration and empowering our ‘clients’ to ‘feel’ the raw information we had been gathering for themselves, we had generated a shared understanding within our smaller group.



designing conversations |


Graphic Breakdown of Interviews and Focus Groups ELEMENTS SUPPORTING ROLES CHRO Generalist Staffing / Recruiting Academy Entity Leader Hiring Manager Peer Mentor New Manager


Providing Feedback on Performance

Clarifying Expectations & Roles

Clarifying Vision & Goals

Understanding Org. Structure

Understanding Policies

Physical Navigation

Knowing Who is Who

PERSPECTIVES New Managers Stakeholders HR Generalists



designing conversations |


ELEMENTS SUPPORTING ROLES CHRO Generalist Staffing / Recruiting Academy Entity Leader Hiring Manager Peer Mentor New Manager


Building Relationships & Networking

Navigating Politics & System

Professional Development Planning

Leadership Development

Identifying Mentors

Coping with Stress

Team-Building & Communication with Staff

PERSPECTIVES New Managers Stakeholders HR Generalists



designing conversations |


Workshop preparation


All of the themes we had identified had great deal of overlap. In preparation for the workshop we consolidated these 18 themes down into broader topics.

CHRO Generalist

Working with our main contact, Lauren, we arrived at 7 topics and sent them out to everyone who had been involved in our interviews and focus groups. We asked them to select their top three topics to guide the workshop focus. With the number of willing participants and their priorities we narrowed the focus down to 4 topics of focus and selected diverse teams for each. This ensured that the work that would be produced by each team would have considered multiple points of view.

Staffing / Recruiting Academy Entity Leader Hiring Manager Peer Mentor New Manager


Training in Digital Systems

Set-Up & Access to Needed Systems

Finance Training & Support

“Safe� Problem Solving Assistance

PERSPECTIVES New Managers Stakeholders HR Generalists



designing conversations |


Workshop priorities Seventeen people responded as willing participants for the workshop and identified their priorities around the seven topics. When looking at the results we ended up with four areas of focus.


ning Roles

Team Building & Bare Necessities Communication with Staff

Physical Defining Roles Navigation

Team Building & Communication Ensuring Clarity with Staff

Understanding Physical & Navigating Org. Navigation Structure

Ensuring Clarity

While the topics of Defining Roles and Physical Navigation were of great interest to many of the participants we decided not to make them focus areas for the workshop. Defining Roles was a consistent and over arching theme through out our findings. We decided that rather than making this a specific focus, we would ensure that it would be a major consideration for all of the work moving forward. With Physical Navigation, we had

Understanding & Navigating Org. Structure

found that while it was a major issue for everyone their were existing materials that could aid in resolving this issue. It was a matter of tracking down, packaging and making accessible existing information. For this reason we decided not the make Physical Navigation an area of focus for the Workshop. Finally, because of the interest and obvious overlap between Understanding and Navigation Organizational Structure and Building Relationships and Networking, we combined these two themes to create one cohesive area of focus. These four topics became the areas of focus for the workshop and teams for each were created based on level of interest and diversity.

Understanding & Navigating Org. Structure

Seven Potential Topics Building Relationships & Networking


Building the details of our findings We delivered Relationships & around these seven topics to those who had Networking been involved in the discovery process. We wanted to identify the priorities that would inform the workshop focus.

Bare Necessities

Team Building & Communication with Staff

Ensuring Clarity

Understanding Org. Structure & Networking Building Relationships & Networking


involving the whole system

designing conversations |

Solutions Workshop We designed the framework for the workshop with the goal of having the whole system engaged in the creation of solutions that could address the identified topics. Teams were diverse, having individuals from senior leadership positions to managers who had recently completed their on-boarding process to various positions within Human Resources. Several members of our core ‘client’ group participated as well. In preparation for the workshop we prepared several materials that would help guide a collaborative conversation within each group. We provided each group with a reference guide to our findings around each topic. We also developed supporting materials that would help each team move through the workshop process and create representations of their potential solutions. It was important to provide the right scaffolding for each task that addressed the different levels of creativity individuals may be operating in. For these reason we kept the materials as simple and straight forward as possible. These ranged from templates with prompting questions, simple post-its, and a “solution scenario board”. This scenario board along with a set of cards allowed each team to take their ideas a step further by creating scenarios that outlined the entire system around how a potential solution might work. By using the basic elements of a story who, what, when, where, and how, each group was able to describe there solution on a timeline of pre-hire, the first 180 days and ongoing support after the first 180 days. The flexibility and visual nature of this task allowed for greater transparency and clarity around each team’s solution idea.


15 min

20 min

50 Min

35 Min

Problem Understanding: Creating a group perspective

Solution Exploration: Generating multiple ideas

Sharing & Learning I:

Presenting ideas and getting feedback

Solution Scenarios:

Refining ideas and building scenarios

Sharing & Learning II: 15 Min

Presenting scenarios back to the larger group

Group reflection: Discussing the work 10 Min



designing conversations |

We began the workshop with a brief presentation about how we had gotten to this point and emphasized that everyone in the room was an expert in the topics being discussed. After an overview on our findings, the structure of the workshop, and some simple ground rules the work began.


Throughout the ‘solutions workshop’ we acted as facilitators, working to keep each group on task and providing assistance as needed. Along with the supporting materials we had developed to guide the work of each task we also worked to very clearly articulate each step of the workshop and why each task was important.

In just 3 hours the group would move through a process of understanding the problem, exploring solutions, getting feedback, generating scenarios, sharing their concepts and a larger group reflection.



Problem Understanding

TEAM: Team-building & Communication with staff Team members listen while Ken, a new manager, shares his experiences and point of view around their group’s topic.

designing conversations |


Problem Understanding During the first part of the workshop each group was provided with a board outlining the relevant information for their topic for them to use as a point of reference during this initial conversation. We also asked each group to use a ‘problem understanding sheet’ for to guide their conversation around three questions as well as help track the important points that came up during the conversation. The first question on the sheet was about Cause and Effect. This prompted the group members to discuss and share their points of view about why this topic exists as an obstacle for new managers. This opened the conversation for individuals to share their own experiences or initial understanding around their particular topic. The second questions was about The Future of Success, which asked what the value of resolving the topic might be. This moved their conversation from discussing the problem its self to how they could imagine a the problem being nonexistent. This was important for the group to move beyond just discussing the problem to realizing what is at stake. Finally, the third question was about Resources and Opportunities. Here the group would discuss what existing resources or methods they may have knowledge of that could be built upon to address their given topic. This final question would act as a transition point for the group and individuals to begin to think about what potential solutions could be, which would be explored in the next step of the workshop process.



Solution Exploration

TEAM: Ensuring Clarity After some individual idea generation each group reviewed all of the ideas and began to cluster common ideas that could work to address their area of focus.

designing conversations |


Solution Exploration After the group had worked to create a common understanding around their topic they then moved into the Solution exploration Phase. Here each group moved through a common ideation process used in design to generate multiple ideas around a particular design space. This began with individual ideation where each team member had 3 minutes to come write down as many ‘blue sky’ ideas they could think of that might address their topic. Each individual the had another three minutes to focus on ideas that they believed to be more practical and feasible. By structuring the first part around ‘blue sky’ Ideas we wanted people to get comfortable with reducing their filtering of ideas. Once the first six minutes were up the group then put all of their post-its out on their table discussed them and worked collaboratively to cluster the ideas that were similar. Once these common ideas were identified each group then discussed which of the idea clusters best addressed the topic their group was exploring. Each group choose the top three ideas that either singularly or collectively addressed their topic, gave them a name and placed them on a concept board that could be used to present their ideas back to the larger group and receive feedback that would help to refine their concept later in the workshop. Through out this process the group moved from individual incubation and idea generation to collaborative sense-making and finally joint decision making. In this fast paced process each group successfully generated three solution directions for their topic in only a mater of 20 minutes.


Individual Idea Generation: 2.5 min Blue-sky ideas 2.5 min Practical ideas

Each team member writes as many single ideas down on post-its as possible.

Idea Clustering: 10 min

Each group will work together th look at all of the ideas that have been generated, discuss them and try to identify and cluster common themes or similar ideas.

Idea Selection: 5 min

Each group will then select the top 3 clusters that they believe best address their topic. These idea clusters will then be put on the ‘Concept Board’ and given a title


Sharing & Learning

TEAM: Understanding Org. Structure & Networking Lauren and Chris Present their team’s top ideas back to the larger group to get feedback and direction.

Solution Scenarios

TEAM: Bare Necessities Each team worked collaboratively to develop their scenarios, taking into account the entire system around their potential solutions.

designing conversations |


Solution Scenarios After each group received feed back on their initial concept ideas and a short break they began to further develop their solutions using the ‘solution scenario board’ we had developed. This allowed each team to think about their potential concept in greater detail. Each group was instructed to layout their scenarios using the cards and explore the system in which their concept would function. Because of the flexible nature of this process, using cards that could easily be moved around, each group had time to quickly layout various scenarios and having a discussion around their concept. It was only when each group had made a final decision to where all members agreed on the scenario that the cards would finally be taped down. Once each group completed their scenarios they gave a brief presentation explaining how their solutions worked and addressed their given topic. Interestingly enough many of these solutions were not about providing materials to the newly hired manager alone but ways to facilitate conversation among various actors involved in the on-boarding process at multiple touch points.



designing conversations |


Reflection At the end of the workshop we allowed time for everyone to reflect on the work that had been produced as well as their thoughts on the process they had just gone through. The feedback was very impressive. Everyone was satisfied with the level of work that had been produced in just a short 3 hours. More importantly however as one participant pointed out was the benefit of just getting everyone in the same room and having a structure to which conversations about these large problems could take place. We had also used a reflection survey to gather more anonymous information around the experience of the workshop. In these feedback forms many individuals expressed feelings of being engaged. Several individuals expressed the desire for incorporating this structure around other areas within the organization as well as making a longer “all day” workshop to see how much farther people could get. All of this positive feedback validated for us the benefit of such a framework both during and leading up to the actual workshop.

“This has been really has given us an opportunity to really talk out some problems and get down to the details” Judy, Workshop Participant



designing conversations |


Guiding Principles for Solution Opportunities

outcomes: Continuing an inclusive approach After the workshop we held a presentation where we outlined what had been produced as well as recommendations for moving forward. At this presentation were many of the individuals we had interacted with throughout our work in the interviews, focus groups, and the workshop as well as our core group and other interested individuals at the senior leadership level. We discussed the process we had used and how it was beneficial in engaging the multiple perspectives involved in the on-boarding process to inform directions for solutions around the identified themes. We concluded this presentation with some guiding principles around the potential for solution opportunities as well as approaches to the development of such solutions using the following approach:

Defining Roles

Networks for Understanding

Solution Opportunities

• Continue to engage relevant employees throughout the development of solutions • Work simple and fast in both the creation and implementation of possible solutions • Involve those affected by solutions at all levels in the evaluation and refinement process of new solutions.

People as Resources

Transparency & Clarity

Tools for Knowledge

Supporting Conversations

Our goal was to clearly articulate;ate the value of the collaborative co-design process we had used throughout the course of the work and how such an approach could continue.



designing conversations |


The discussion that followed was very promising. Because many of the individuals at the meeting had been involved through out the process and experienced the work first-hand there was a great deal of value placed in this way of working and sticking with such an approach moving forward to further develop and test potential solutions. The tone and vocabulary used to describe the work moving forward was extremely different from where we had started with our original project within this organization. Their were conversations around prototyping and iterating on potential solutions created by those who had been involved in the process all along. After this larger group discussion we met with our core group, who is responsible for carrying this work forward and worked to outline the details of how this approach could be continued. As we had outlined in our presentation keeping everyone involve plays an important role in this approach. As of now we are working toward defining the frameworks for which these development meetings can be structured to further inform these solutions, implement them, learning, and continue conversations around iterating on these solutions.



designing conversations CASE STUDY:

Framework Prototypes Collaborative Action Planning & The Community Voice

Community Engagement in Action


new kensington community development corporation

designing conversations |


Design frameworks for collaboration and empowerment in NKCDC Focus: Community Engagement in Action

In collaboration with the NKCDC team and leaders within the community, our goal has been to look at new ways of engaging with the community in project planning, where progress and decision making is made more tangible and inclusive. In part of this goal we also wanted to develop new ways to solicit, and capture, multiple perspectives that can inform and guide collaborative action planning. Using the two committees, Clean and Green and Youth Engagement, as a foundation for collective focus we have tested different frameworks and tools to reach these goals.



Collaborative Action Planning,

Clean and Green Committee

designing conversations |


The lay of the land The work of the Clean and Green committee began with a site survey of the many vacant lots within the community. Team members from NKCDC, several community members, and my self walked around the community with the goal of identifying potential project spaces. During this survey the neighbors guided the tour of the community and pointed out various lots that were of interest. In this process there were several criteria that we looked for when making selections of potential spaces. These included the location in regards to residents, ownership, and the scope of work that may be required in renovating the space for new possibilities. As we toured the community we marked of the areas of most interest on a map and took some photos of each location. Through this process we identified 11 sites for future projects.



designing conversations |


Supporting a vision Once we had identified these locations we had planned on narrowing them down further with the committee group and to imagine the potential opportunities of the different spaces. As a way to facilitate this work I created materials and a framework for the committee to reach decisions about which spaces were priorities and what they would like to see for the future of these spaces. The supporting materials for this work consisted of space cards for each of the locations the neighbors had identified during our tour. A photograph, aerial view, and map of each location was indicated on individual cards. The these space cards would be used as a point of reference for group prioritization and decision making. Along with these space cards I also developed a menu a concept tags that could be used in the work of the committee in generating the beginnings of a collective vision for these spaces. These concept tags would act as a starting point for the group to identify what the space could potentially offer. The tangible and visual nature of these materials would allow for a high level of accessibility making the prioritization and ideation process less complex, so that people of different levels of creativity could take action. The materials would also allow for a high level of transparency and understanding around the concepts for each space and the decision making behind the selected priorities for the concepts to be presented back to the larger community.


Space Discussion: 15 min

The group will go through each space card to clarify the location and discuss the importance and impact on the community.


5 min

Based on the space discussion each committee member would have a chance to select their top priorities. Each member will have 4 dot stickers to select their top 4 locations for a future project.

Collective Visioning: 2.5 min per space (6 spaces total)

Once the top priorities have been identified the group will collaborate to decide what qualities or offerings each space could provide using the concept tags and post-its.


Space Discussion

Clean and Green Committee This process began with a conversation around each space. The group went through each space card and discussed the their different points of view around each location.


Clean and Green Committee Once each card had been discussed the group prioritized the spaces using sticker dots to guide their decision making process, which resulted in more discussion and consensus around specific spaces. Through this method the group narrowed down the 11 spaces to 6 main areas of focus.

Collective Visioning

Clean and Green Committee Once the groups priorities were selected they then worked collaboratively to imagine the future potential of each space. Using the concept tags and post-its the group went through each space and discussed what they would like to see for the future of each location.

designing conversations |

Clean & Green Community Brainstorm The work that was produced by the committee around the selection and visioning for the 6 locations was brought back and presented to the larger community group during one of the monthly meetings. Prior to the larger group meetings some grant money around beautification projects had been made available through a partner of NKCDC.


Concept Overview: 6 min (1 min per concept)

Group Breakout: 2 min

Our goal was to use these initial concepts as the foundation of a larger group decision making process to identify locations and specific project ideas for 3 of the 6 locations that would be funded by the grants. This process began with an overview of the work the committee had done. We emphasized that these concepts were not set in stone but more of a point of reference for further exploration among the larger group. We then divided the 6 space concepts into three different groups based on their geography and asked that those interested in exploring those spaces go to designated parts of the room. In each of these breakout groups were two facilitators. One facilitator was a leader from one of the committees and one was either one of the team members from NKCDC or myself. In each of these groups we moved quickly through a simple idea generation process followed by a final decision on a space and project idea. In each group there was an overall consensus around each project idea. After the decision was made in each group the ideas were presented back to the larger community. The community then went through each concept and showed their interest by raising their hand. By the end of this meeting the tone was drastically different. People were energized, excited and had a sense of accomplishment.


Members of the committee present their initial concepts back to the larger community.

The room is divided into 3 sections based on the geography of the space concepts. Neighbors break out into smaller groups depending on which spaces they are most interested in.

Idea Generation: 10 min

Groups discuss what they would like to see in the spaces that had been selected, building off of the work the committee had already done. These ideas are written down by the facilitator on a sheet of large paper called the ‘Idea Bank’ and validated by the group.

Idea Selection: 5 min

The group revisits their ideas and selects one location and concepts for that location based on what was most feasible and impactful in their point-of-view.

Group Presentations: 1 min per group

A representative from each of the three groups then presents their concept back to the larger group.

Community Decision Making: 20 sec per concept

After all of the presentations are finished the community shows their level of interest in each concept by a simple show of hands. 163/

The Community Voice

Youth Engagement Committee

designing conversations |

The community voice To test a method of soliciting feedback from the larger community we developed “the community voice sheet”. This sheet allowed for questions to be posed to the group and collected to inform potential projects or overall directions. We decided to implement this concept around the work of the Youth Engagement Committee. I met with Renee, the Committee Leader, to discuss what she felt would be most beneficial in using this method. We work together to develop 3 questions around Youth Engagement. Renee pointed out that while there are many resources available for youth in and around the community many parents and even the youth are unaware of them. For this reason we wanted to learn from the larger community what resources they may be using or know of for the youth in the community.


Youth Engagement Committee

Community Voice

Interested in being a part of the Youth Engagement committee? Your Name: E-mail / Phone: Address:

What resources do you use or know of for our kids? ¿Qué recursos utiliza o conoce para nuestros hijos?

What activities do we want for our kids?

Where can we talk to kids to find out what they want?

¿Cuáles son las actividades que queremos para nuestros hijos?

¿Dónde podemos hablar con los niños y jóvenes para averiguar lo que quieren?

We also wanted to learn what other types of resources and activities the community would want for the youth and where we could talk to the youth in the community to find out what they would want. Our hope was that these last two questions could help to inform potential future projects around youth engagement.



designing conversations |


Implementation & response We deployed the community voice sheet at one of the larger neighborhood meetings. We began by first explaining how this could be used as a tool for everyone to have their voices heard and contribute to the work being done by the committee. Everyone seemed excited about the concept and several individuals either took it home to think about the questions more or took extras to share with their neighbors and family. One of the most impactful results of this concept is a sheet that was completed by a 14 year old girl living in the community. At the end of the meeting when we were collecting all of the sheets Nasihah eagerly approached me with her sheet. She made sure to let me know that there was more information on the back. She also wrote the most for each question and had very creative ideas for you activities. What is most important about Nasihah’s contribution is that it made the committee realize that while there were resources for youth in the community, there was very little for the young women. Many of the existing activities for youth are sports oriented and exclusive for the young men of the community.

Nasihah, Community Voice Contributer

Thanks to Nasihah’s voice the committee took one of her suggestions around cosmetology lessons and a ‘green’ cosmetology workshop was held for the young women in the community to learn about how to make their own organic cosmetics.



designing conversations |


Moving forward, sustaining a collaborative relationship My work with both the NKCDC and involvement with the community itself has been some what of a slow process. This is due to the nature of the work and the amount of time and delicate nature of building trust and structure within such a group. However, I plan to continue this relationship in working both internally with the NKCDC with their own internal process and learning more about their structure as well as with the civic group as they move towards more independent actions in creating change within their community.

Gwen, Community Champion and Nasihah’s Mother. Everyone was given a bouquet of flowers for Mother’s Day thanks to Carlos, who also leads the Welcome Committee



designing conversations


comparative analysis

designing conversations |

The meaning & work of change Structured versus Unstructured environments Through my work I have learned a great deal about how each of these groups work to solve complex problems and create change within their environments. I have also worked to understand how and in which ways design and design frameworks can have an impact on facilitating change and building a capacity for collaboration and empowerment within these two contexts. Throughout this exploration I have found that the differences between these two groups are matters of perception and what value means in terms of change. There is also an aspect that points to how these groups can manage and accomplish tasks successfully to work toward their goals and create the change they seek. Many of the insights I have gained throughout my work can be viewed through the lens of structure. As with UPHS, a culture and environment that has a rigid and set structure needs to be approached in a way that unfreezes it from the existing norms. By bringing stakeholders throughout the hierarchical structure through an experience that is ‘flat’ rather than top-down a sense of community is enhanced and the value of collaboration can be realized. Through this experience value is added to such work and can be embraced and fostered as a new way of organization learning and engaging change. As for the community, which has little to no structure, part of the work becomes building a structure to which individuals can operate in and achieve their goals in a more systematic and cohesive way. As the community places a greater value on change the role of the designer is much more about making


| Comparative Analysis

that change visible no matter the scale. A clear and structured model for creating visible change is inherit in a sense of structure that maintains momentum through action and inclusion of the community at large. This understanding can provide several insights as to how designers interested in doing such work can manage their involvement and provide the appropriate support systems to facilitate meaningful collaboration and begin to build a capacity within similar environments.

Scope of Change The perception of change within UPHS Within an organization like UPHS, while the need for major organizational change may be understood, the pace and degree to which significant change can be implemented is incremental. In this sense there is a need for a small win mentality and way of working. Each ‘win’ can be viewed as a stepping stone for which new ways of looking at complexity, working to create solutions and learning from such work can become ingrained into the organizations processes. Through such incremental change a culture that fosters and finds value in collaboration and empowerment across the organization can emerge. This pace and scale at which change occurs is contributed to the nature of such an

hierarchical organization and the structure that comes along with that. In this environment, based on standardization and set protocols, change is seen as disruptive. As a result large change efforts will find resistance at various levels of the organization. It is for this reason that a sense of empowerment is crucial across the organization. When individuals feel empowered to guide change for themselves resistance can be reduced and the change will not only be embraced but well informed. The frameworks used within the UPHS to address issues around an experience for their employees allowed those involved to view new ways of working at a smaller scale. The affect of the work we have done in collaboration with the various stakeholders involved allowed for a manageable approach to become valuable with a particular goal in mind. As these types of organizations are extremely goal oriented this smaller scale change in approach is actually a huge shift from the norms within the organization. The affect of experiencing this value and the continued practice within the organization will likely increase the use of such an approach as time progresses. While the frameworks and tools that have been implemented have been successful I have found that the experience for UPHS employees itself has been most impactful in terms of transforming the organization. Involvement across the organization from senior leadership 179/

designing conversations |

to new managers has been the most important aspect of this work. The experience of those involved in this process has begun a discussion within senior leadership about how to change their way of working from going ‘all in’ on new initiatives with little understanding to a more experimental and inclusive approach to problem solving. While my time with UPHS was brief this small paradigm shift is a big step in the right direction but it will be a process of years for large scale change to emerge.

The perception of change within the community In contrast to a Hierarchical organization like UPHS the community group and NKCDC look toward a larger scope of change. There is also a desire amongst the community members to create fundamental change in their environment at a much faster pace. They want to see a dramatic difference in their environment at large and they want it as soon as possible. Unfortunately this is often a process of many years which involves building a structure that allows the collective of individuals to act in unison toward creating large scale change. At UPHS a great degree of value is placed on the bottom line which is why the greatest design opportunity for transformation is in how problems or opportunities are understood and how solutions developed and implemented.


What I have found to be important for the community in both creating unity and sustaining a sense of accomplishment or progress is visible action. As the community is not driven by financial gain it is the change itself that is the motivator for their work. For this reason building an action oriented culture is important and building that culture requires constant recognition of accomplishments with tangible results. Here the opportunity for design is in making the simplest of actions visible. So in the case of the community, perception of change becomes an important concept when looking toward community empowerment in the decision making and the conception of smaller projects that are visible and meaningful, even if they are small from a broader standpoint. Having these small visible wins maintains a momentum in the community and drives the unity and structure that is actually needed for the community to thrive as a collective movement and voice. As with UPHS, change in the community organization is a long process that reaches beyond the timeframe for this work. The frameworks and tools that have been implemented however have been successful in addressing issues around momentum, unity and structure. While the tools that have been used have been utilized for the specific contexts of the two committees they are general enough for multiple applications. These tools and the

| Comparative Analysis

frameworks that they are used with have been made available to NKCDC for future work. Most importantly the overall model for action planning with the community has been successful. The process of moving a smaller group to a level of decision making that can be made transparent and discussed further with the large community has created visible change in the moral of the group. The community is much more engaged and unified around specific topics rather than individual concerns.

Complexity of task Task complexity in UPHS Within the UPHS there is a culture to which individuals are used to more complicated and structured work tasks. As a result what I have found is that very clear direction and a certain degree of complexity in collaborative tasks are essential in maintaining a sense of importance for the group work. Where these groups will struggle is with the ambiguity of more free form tasks. In a different project with UPHS we had ran a workshop where we had attempted to have a group of individuals create visual representations of a particular experience they had described. We had instructed them to make simple drawings that outlined a sequence of events around that experience. What we had found was that there was much hesitation

around this task and the goal was not reached. Because we had provided little physical structure for this task and the requirement of free form expression the group felt a great level of discomfort. This understanding was a driving factor in the development of the solutions scenario board used during the solutions workshop. Because we had provided the artifacts for which visual representations could be generated, as well as a clear structure and detailed instruction the group was able to complete the task. While both cases required a very similar level of depth, the shift in managing the task was more accessible and on the level of comfort for the individuals.

Task complexity in the community Because of the lack of structure within the community there is a need for a high level of simplicity and scaffolding around the tasks that groups are involved in. There has to be a great deal of balance between their need for visible change within the community and staying within certain degree of comfort when working toward goals. This poses an interesting problem when designing the interactions and artifacts for facilitating collaborative work. The tasks themselves must be simple and very straight forward, having little complexity yet produce a high level of visual clarity and meaning. This becomes very important for both the small group work, as with the committee meetings, 181/

designing conversations |

and the larger groups decision making. As with the framework for project planning in the Clean and Green Committee, the group used just photos and generic icons to begin building a vision for potential space projects. The task was simple, interactive, and very visual. This would have been very different if the participants were simply given pencils and post-its, a completely blank canvas. They need a starting point for which they can build off of. The concept tags acted as a support to which meaningful conversation, planning and decision making could begin. As a result, not only was the small group work easy to manage but also allowed the larger group to comprehend the concepts and make decisions about how to further build off of those as foundations.

Common ground The value of unity While these two different contexts have very clear differences it is important to also understand where there is similarity in terms of meaningful work and building a capacity for collaboration and empowerment. While looking at the fundamental needs of these two groups there is an important aspect of creating unity. What I have attempted in each of these spaces is to test supporting structures for individuals to come together to create meaning. What I have experienced and learned in my collaboration with both of these groups is that the problems


they are looking to solve are somehow less relevant then the actual feeling of being united for a common goal. Empowerment through collaboration effects individuals in a way that provides meaning and hope in an otherwise constraining life. This applies to both the employee in an overwhelmingly large organization and the neighbor who fears for their safety in their own community. It is this feeling of being connected and valued as an individual contributor to a larger goal that I believe holds the true value in both of these environments with a greater capacity for addressing complexity as an added feature.

| Comparative Analysis

Implications for design Design as facilitation Throughout the course of this work my role and those who I have worked with as a designers has been to facilitate the work in these two contexts rather then lead it. In contrast to the consultancy model we have pushed the concept of ‘user as expert’. When the designer takes on this role of facilitator the frameworks and tools that are implemented should be as stand alone as possible. In each design interaction I have had with these two groups clarity around direction for each framework and the practical nature of the artifacts used allowed the designer to step back a great deal and let groups lead their own work. This is very different than the designer as expert consultancy model in that the designer sets the stage for the ‘client’ to reach their own conclusions. In this way the experience of the design process is in itsself a learning process. As people learn a great deal by doing for themselves the self-actualization of the frameworks and tools is inherent.

an environment and change the way things work. Rather it is the felt commitment of the designer and their intentions that allows such work to be validated or even accepted. In a very real way you must become part of the ‘community’. Only then can the real opportunities and desire for capacity building take full form and have impact.

This does not mean however that the designer is completely removed from the process or those being served. Empathy within both of these contexts has been crucial to this work and the development of the frameworks and tools that have been implemented. This has also been important in building trust within both contexts. The designer cannot simply come in to 183/

Comparative Analysis Breakdown

Hierarchical Organization

Task Complexity

Community Organization

Scope of Change

Pace of change

Degree of Structure

Level of Scaffolding Needed

designing conversations |

| Final thoughts

Final thoughts A continued exploration This work has been a learning experience for myself and those I have worked with throughout the course of this thesis. In moving forward I am exited in continuing to collaborate and build on this work within these two contexts as well as other potential opportunities. While this work has been an academic study I have found that, as a designer, this is also an important form of practice that I plan to bring to all future projects. My goal is not only to build on this knowledge and explore further opportunities but also to make this knowledge accessible to others in the design field as well as those fields that I have been working with. I believe that the benefits of sharing this understanding will allow for a broader and rapidly progressing knowledge base and have great anticipation to what this can do in the larger scope of creating meaningful change in the work we all do.



designing conversations |


| Appendix

glossary/ Artifact – Something created by humans usually for a practical purpose.

Design tools – Artifacts and frameworks that aid multiple aspects of the design process.

Boundary Object – Items of information perceived and

Empowerment –To promote the self-actualization or

used differently by different observers in light of their own biases, experiences, or needs.

influence of an individual or group.

Civic Association –A type of organization whose official

to reduce cognitive complexity.

goal is to improve neighborhoods through volunteer work by its members.

Explicit Knowledge – Knowledge that has been or can be

Co-creation – The process of creating something collaboratively with the belief that the outcome will be richer and better than from a solo endeavor.

Co-design – The process of designing with people that will

Epistemic Action – The physical manipulation of information

articulated, codified, and stored in certain media.

Facilitation – To make easier or help bring about. Framework – A basic conceptional structure (as of ideas).

use or deliver a product or service.

Hierarchy – A ruling body of clergy organized into orders or ranks each subordinate to the one above it.

Collaboration – To work jointly with others or together

Organizational Culture – The values and behaviors that

especially in an intellectual endeavor.

Community of Practice – A group of people who share an

Participatory Design – An approach to design that attempts to actively involve all stakeholders (e.g. employees, partners, customers, citizens, end users) in the design process to help ensure that the product designed meets their needs and is usable. Scaffolding – The support given during the learning process which is tailored to the needs of the user.

Stakeholder – One who is involved in or affected by a course of action.

Tacit Knowledge – Knowledge that is difficult to transfer to another person by means of writing it down or verbalizing it.

contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of an organization.

interest, a craft, and/or a profession.



designing conversations |


| Appendix

bibliography/ Arias, Ernesto G., and Gerhard Fischer. “Boundary Objects: Their Role in Articulating the Task at Hand and Making Information Relevant to It.” Center for LifeLong Learning & Design and Institute of Cognitive Science Department of Computer Science, and College of Architecture and Planning University of Colorado, Boulder, n.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2012. Sanders, Elizabeth B., and Pieter J. Stappers. “Co-creation and the New Landscapes of Design.” N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2012. Wolff, Thomas J. “Coalition Building: One Path to Empowered Communities.” AHEC/Community Partners, 1992. Hansson, Sven O. “Decision Theory.” Department of Philosophy and the History of Technology Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) Stockholm, 19 Aug. 1994. Sanders, Elizabeth. “Design Serving People.” Publication. Cumulus Working Papers Copenhagen, 2006. Cameron, Kim S., and Robert E. Quinn. “Diagnosing And Changing Organizational Culture:.” Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 July 2012. < books/about/Diagnosing_and_changing_organizational_c. html?id=blRwWniTsUAC>.


Ehn, Pelle. “Participation in Design Things.” Publications. School of Arts and Communication Malmö University, n.d. Web. 29 July 2012. <>.

McMillan, David W., and David M. Chavis. “Sense of Community: A Definition and Theory.” George Peabody College of Vanderbelt University, 1986.

Zagal, Jose P., Jochen Rick, and Idris Hsi. “Collaborative Games: Lessons Learned from Board Games.” N.p., 2006. Web.

Steelcase. “How the Workplace Can Improve Collaboration.” Threesixty Publication, 2010.

Stappers, Pieter J., and Elizabeth B. Sanders. “Generative Tools for Context Mapping: Tuning the Tools.” N.p., 2003. Web.

Sangiorgi, Daniela. “Transformative Services and Transformation Design.” ImagineLancaster, Lancaster University, n.d. Web.

Kelly, Michael P. “Globalization: It’s Affects on Kensington Philadelphia, PA.” N.p., 2004.

Burns, Colin, Hilary Cottam, Chris Vanstone, and Jennie Winhall. “RED PAPER 02 Transformation Design.” RED Design

Jaskyte, Kristina. “Organizational Culture and Innovation in Nonprofit Organizations.” School of Social Work, Unicarsity of Georgia, 2004. Harris, Pauline, and John Daley. “Exploring the Contribution of Play to Social Capital in Institutional Adult Learning Settings.” N.p., 2008. Web. < search/detailmini.jsp?_nfpb=true>. Coughlan, Peter, Jane F. Suri, and Katherine Canales. “Prototypes as (Design) Tools for Behavioral and Organizational Change.” IDEO, 2007.

Schrage, Michael. Shared Minds: The New Technologies of Collaboration. New York: Random House, 1990. Print. Wallerstein, Nina, and Edward Bernstein. “Empowerment Education: Freire’s Ideas Adapted to Health Education.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. < pubmed/3230016>.

Council, n.d. Web. <>. Weisbord, Marvin Ross. Productive Workplaces Revisited: Dignity, Meaning, and Community in the 21st Century. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2004. Print. NextDesign Institute. “Next Design Geographies: Understanding Design Thinking 1,2,3,4.” Issuu. N.p., n.d. Web. <>. Yukl, and Becker. “Components of Psychological Empowerment.” N.p., n.d. Swift, C. and Levin, G. (1987) Empowerment: an emerging mental health technology. Journal of Primary Prevention, 8, 71 191/

Designing Conversations: frameworks for collaboration & empowerment  

2012 MiD Thesis Project by Matt Van Der Tuyn

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you